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Military Chaplain Candidates Consider Their Calling

| October 25, 2012

Chaplain Dave West

Regent University School of Divinity's military chaplaincy candidates and other students considering military chaplaincy recently had the opportunity to fellowship with active duty and retired chaplains and learn more about the calling to serve the spiritual needs of service members and their families. The Military Chaplaincy Dinner was held on Tuesday, Oct. 16, in conjunction with modular week, which brings online students to campus for face-to-face learning and connecting.

Chaplain (Col.) Dave West, a retired Army chaplain and School of Business & Leadership doctoral candidate, gave the keynote address. West, originally an enlisted and commissioned engineer officer in the U.S. Army, admitted he came to military chaplaincy "reluctantly" after forming a negative opinion of military chaplains. "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him you don't want to do something," said West, adding, "God has a way of teaching us things when we listen to His call."

West related many colorful stories of military ministry in the field, including battlefield ministry in places like Djibouti and Iraq. Even in places as volatile as these, military chaplains are prohibited from carrying a weapon, he explained. "When the only weapon that you have is the Holy Spirit, it teaches you about having the faith to totally rely on God."

Speaking pointedly and from the heart, West shared his best advice for aspiring military chaplains. First, be purposeful: "Make it your purpose to share eternal truths with soldiers." Second, be devoted: "Chaplains go where they are needed—downrange." Third, persevere: "No matter what God calls you to, He'll make a way," he said. "God is pulling for you." Lastly, West said, chaplains must be obedient to God. "If God calls you, all you have to do is follow," he said.

Navy veteran and student in Regent's College of Arts & Sciences Robin Priestly found the session informative and thought-provoking. "I learned pertinent, up-front information from experienced military chaplains and chaplain assistants to capture the very essence of military ministry," she said.

Prospective chaplain candidate Andrew and his wife Amanda Hoyle enjoyed this unique opportunity to fellowship and learn. "Being our first time attending, we were unsure what to expect," Andrew said. "We found the time to be challenging, inspiring, and profitable. Chaplain West did a wonderful job communicating the blessings and challenges of military chaplaincy. Meeting others at the dinner gave us an opportunity to connect and network with those who know more about the life and role of the chaplain."

The dinner, sponsored by the Navy Recruiting District in Richmond, Va., is a semi-annual event that has featured notable speakers including Capt. Jim Hightower, Chaplain Corps, U.S. Navy; Chaplain (Col.) Rick Garrison, U.S. Army; Lt. Cmdr. Maurice Buford, Chaplain Corps, U.S. Navy; and Captain Dale Parker, Chaplain Corps, U.S. Navy (Ret.).

Learn more about Regent's department of Military and Veterans Affairs.


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